Over the past 65 years the press has been given a succession of last chances to make self-regulation work. It has wasted them all, harming thousands of innocent people, provoking crisis after crisis and inquiry after inquiry. Here is the record.

Four years after a Royal Commission told the press to start regulating itself, nothing had been done. Only the threat of legislation forced them to create the General Council of the Press. Withdrawing his private member’s Bill, C.J. Simmons MP told the Commons: ‘I give warning here and now that if it [the Council] fails, some of us again will have to come forward with a measure similar to this bill.‘

A second Royal Commission told the press self-regulation wasn’t working and proposed steps to make it effective: ‘We think that the Press should be given another opportunity itself voluntarily to establish an authoritative General Council . . . We recommend, however, that the government should specify a time limit after which legislation would be introduced.‘

The third Royal Commission on the Press urged radical reform of the Press Council and said that if nothing was done parliament should act. The report said: ‘We recommend that the press should be given one final chance to prove that voluntary self-regulation can be made to work.’

Parliament backed the Calcutt Committee recommendations for radical change to self-regulation, including the establishment of an effective Press Complaints Commission. Papers were given a ‘year of grace’ to make this work and the Home Secretary, David Waddingston, told the Commons: ‘This is positively the last chance for the industry to establish an effective non-statutory system of regulation.’

The Calcutt Review concluded that the PCC was ‘not… an effective regulator of the press’. It recommended a Press Complaints Tribunal backed by statute. A Major government with a slender majority failed to implement this and the PCC continued.

In the Commons in July 2011, speaking after the revelation that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, David Cameron said: ‘I accept we can’t say it’s the last chance saloon all over again. We’ve done that.’

On November 29th 2012, when Lord Justice Leveson announces his recommendations, we can make history. This may not be the first public inquiry into the conduct of the press but this is the first time the public can find out the real conclusions without the press’s self-interested spin, because of social media. Make sure that you like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and share our posts with your friends. Send this post to them now. There can be no more last chances.

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Daryl Championreply
November 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Multiple “last chances” spread over the last sixty-odd years is certainly enough for the press to have proven beyond doubt they are unwilling, if not unable, to effectively regulate themselves: documented fact, unlike the tall tales and downright cynical, self-interested untruths often fed to the reading public by certain sections of the press. Indeed (over) time for change.

Edel Sunde Hinsereply
November 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm

It has been too much power within the newspaper industry,who lead to widespread corruption&bribery….throughout politics,police,networks providers&media world…..
It,s time for a regulation law….!

Media Reform at Parliament this Thursday – Media Reformreply
November 26, 2012 at 11:01 am

[…] course, given the history of failed regulatory attempts — from the Royal Commission of 1949 to the Calcutt Review of 1993 — perhaps you’ll merely […]

Leon Carterreply
November 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Have to agree regulation is needed even post Leveson enquiry they has been shoddy reporting and down right lies inflicted on the general public just look at the many stories slatting the disabled and benefit claimants with statistics that do not stand up.

Perhaps Hugh Grant wants to start his own publication because according to polls it would be received well.

Live Blog: The Leveson Report – Media Reformreply
November 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm

[…] Speech opens with a nod towards the long history of failed ‘last chances’ but says his enquiry has been “the most concentrated look at the press that this country has […]

Dennis Cattellreply
December 2, 2012 at 9:42 am

What is that big red band that appears in the midddle of every page when I want to read stuff – its here now. Get rid of it

A big red band that has ‘sign the petition’ at the bottom of it. How can I read your website with this everywhere? PS I HAVE SIGNED THE PTITION SO WHATS IT STILL THERE FOR?

Kenneth Wardreply
December 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I thought ‘Last Chance’ meant it will be over if you fail. But to keep on failing and to keep giving last chances say’s to me that British Politics must be corrupt it’s self evident, it’s there for all see. The Government, Police force, The Bankers, are all corrupt. We need to realise that our government Police and Financial Systems that bad that it’s becoming hideous.
The Police Selling murdered children’s phone numbers to the press. You can’t make it up. Sad sad people, that have been given these positions of power and use that power in this way.

david owenreply
March 18, 2014 at 3:22 pm
– In reply to: Kenneth Ward

Unfortunately this comment falls into the same trap as many newspnewspapers – generalisation. There are thousands of police officers in this country and to simply label ‘police’ as corrupt due to the actions of a miniscule minority is unfair.

Alice Smithreply
May 19, 2014 at 2:53 pm
– In reply to: david owen

Yet again Mr Owen, you could apply exactly what you stated: to journalists.

There are thousands of journalists in this country and to simply label ‘journalists’ as corrupt due to the actions of a minuscule minority is unfair.

Not only is that but please don’t forget that it is down to the Guardian (which is a national newspaper) and INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST Nick Davies that the hacking scandal was exposed bare for the public to see and the justice is paid.

John Ashleyreply
May 18, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Seems like 25 hours a day, 8 days a week in this last chance saloon!
Has the landlord prime minister got the bottle to call ‘last orders’, or just got the bottle?

The misunderstandings of the Financial Times – Brian Cathcart | Inforrm's Blogreply
July 20, 2013 at 11:01 am

[…] from those standards. He made these proposals because, as his report showed, the press has proved unable and unwilling to regulate itself effectively over a period of 60 years and and the result was a catalogue of shocking outrages […]

IPSO facto – why PressBoF’s regulator is going nowhere | Inforrm's Blogreply
July 31, 2013 at 12:10 am

[…] editors and proprietors of national newspapers have more than 60 years’ experience of manoeuvring to avoid independent and effective regulation. Again and again down the decades […]

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